Update time：2021-07-09 04:34Tag: dragon age inquisition
Skyrim’s Dragon Priests and Dragon Age’s Magisters Sidereal share a lot of similarities, and there may be a reason behind their shared roles.
By Charlie Stewart
Published 1 hour ago
Dragon Age and The Elder Scrolls may be two of the most famous fantasy RPG series, but the games have a lot of clear differences. The player character’s perspective, the combat systems, the open-world design, and the?development?priorities, from character-driven storytelling to player freedom, are all huge differences between both.?Dragon Age: Inquisition and Skyrim?aren’t fundamentally the same, but they’re not entirely unalike.
Lore?in both games share some interesting similarities. Both series contain ancient sects that shaped the history of the settings, worshipped dragons, and are bent on returning in the game’s storylines. In Skyrim it’s the Dragon Priests, and in Dragon Age its the Magisters Sidereal. Here’s the role these strange cults play in their respective stories, and why the similarities may have arisen independently.
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The Magisters Sidereal have undergone a couple of retcons over Dragon Age’s history, but they are fundamental to the lore. In fact, the image of the Magisters Sidereal is one of the very first things players see in the opening cutscene of Dragon Age: Origins. The story is simple on a surface level: Many years ago some of the high priests of the Tevinter Imperium, the oldest human kingdom in Thedas and the only one with a mage ruling class, violated the laws of nature and inadvertently created the Darkspawn, the first game’s main villains.
The Magisters Sidereal were worshippers of the Old Gods of Tevinter, the dragons who would later become corrupted by the Darkspawn to become each new Archdemon of each Blight. Urged by their pantheon, the Magisters Sidereal aimed to break through the Veil; the barrier between Thedas and the realm of magic and dreams known as the Fade.
Using blood magic they were able to do so, entering the Golden City of the Maker and, according to the Andrastian Chantry, inadvertently turning it black with their hubris. The Chantry claims that this caused the Maker to leave Thedas until the Chant of Light was spoken from all corners of the world, sending the Blights as punishment.
This account is complicated significantly in Inquisition, the plot of which involves one of the Magisters Sidereal personally as well as the Dread Wolf, the creator of the Veil. Dragon Age: Inquisition’s villain Corypheus was one of the original Magisters Sidereal and therefore one of the first Darkspawn. He claims that when they found the Golden City the Maker’s throne was already empty, raising huge questions about the origins of the Darkspawn and the Chantry’s account of history. This entire chunk of Dragon Age lore has some bizarre similarities to Skyrim’s Dragon Priests, although there may be an explanation.
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Like the Magisters Sidereal the Dragon Priests of Skyrim are the High Priests of a long-dead religion. Just as the Magisters Sidereal worshipped draconic Old Gods, the Dragon Priests of Skyrim once ruled the province on behalf of the Dovah. While there were seven Magisters Sidereal, there were eight high ranking Dragon Priests?found in Skyrim’s main game.
Like the Magisters Sidereal the Dragon Priests are also shown to have access to other realities. One priest, Nahkriin, guards the Nord temple of Skuldafn and a portal leading to the Nord afterlife, Sovngarde. In both worlds these groups are secondary villains in the lore, even in the context of Corypheus’ big role in Inquisition. They are dangerous not just as individuals, but because of their loyalty to a greater, less controllable power.
In both cases a member of each game’s organization becomes the main villain after the defeat of the major evil. In Dragon Age Corypheus becomes the big bad after the defeat of the Old God-turned Archdemon Urthemiel at the end of Dragon Age: Origins. In Skyrim, the Dragon Priest Miraak becomes the main villain of the Dragonborn DLC after the defeat of Alduin.
Although Skyrim influenced later Dragon Age games?— Inquisition’s more open world being a prime example?— Dragon Age: Origins released in 2009, two years before Skyrim. Aside from being inspired by general fantasy tropes, it seems unlikely that the Dragon Priests or the Magisters Sidereal influenced one another, which raises an interesting question — why did both fantasy series end up coming up with ancient cults to operate as secondary villains?
Even though Dragon Age and Skyrim have very different storytelling styles, the answer may lie in the role the cults play in each world’s story. The greater threats of both Skyrim and Dragon Age are borderline incomprehensible in their goals. The Darkspawn are compelled to?wash over Thedas, killing and corrupting everything in their path. The dragons of Skyrim want to dominate the world, but Alduin also wants to destroy it completely to fulfill his role as the World Eater.
These totally inhuman threats with totally inhuman motivations don’t just need mortal agents, the stories themselves need mortals who were complicit in their evil in order to ground their fantasy in some semblance of reality. Alduin may have eventually wanted to eat all of Nirn, but that doesn’t stop some humans taking advantage and serving him to become the ruling class of Skyrim. The Darkspawn may only be motivated by hunger and bloodshed, but?their origins can be traced to far more human flaws like ambition and greed. The first spoken line in?Origins sums it up: “the Chantry teaches us that is it the hubris of men that brought the Darkspawn into our world.”
Although Dragon Age dives into the story of the Magisters Sidereal more explicitly, Skyrim’s Dragon Priests still show how the dragons’ drive for domination is merely reflective of a part of human nature. In both cases,?without their human collaborators the Dragon and?Darkspawn?threats would have far less impact in their respective stories. The games’ villains may be extremes, but they are extremes extrapolated from elements of human nature reflected in the Magisters Sidereal and the Dragon Priests, showing the way fantasy can?ground itself in real-life internal conflicts.
Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim?is?available?now on PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, and Xbox One.?Dragon Age 4?is in development.
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